After coming off a season with a historic Sweet Sixteen tournament run, the current men’s soccer team has a big act to follow. Fans will be expecting an exciting season, and head coach Mike Brizendine is ready to bring it to them.
Historically, Virginia Tech has been viewed as an underdog in a strong ACC conference, but Tech has recently become a skilled team to watch out for, and opponents will be seeking the resume-building win.
The Hokies are ranked No. 16 in the United Soccer Coaches poll along with six other ACC teams. Tech will get chances at redemption against No. 6 North Carolina and No. 10 Duke this season, who both handed Virginia Tech losses last season.
Virginia Tech returns most of its goals and saves from last year's team. Nine of the 12 goal scorers remain with the Hokies, including ACC second-team player Kristo Strickler. He led Tech in goals last season with 10 and helped the Hokies rank second in the ACC in 2018 in scoring with 37 goals. By the looks of it, the squad may rank very highly in that category again.
Key goalie Mathijs Swaneveld is back for his second season. In 2018, Swaneveld led the ACC in saves with 95. However, Brizendine hopes that Swaneveld will not have to face as many shots this season.
Many players that will take the field already have vast experience playing against high-level teams, and Brizendine has a lot of depth and freedom to work with many players in his lineup.
The Hokies have a very difficult schedule ahead of them and have already faced top talent in No. 13 Georgetown on Aug. 24 for their third exhibition game. That resulted in Tech’s first loss of the season, 0–3, but the Hokies are powering forward. Tech won its first regular season game against Loyola Marymount, 2–1. Strickler scored a game-winning goal in the 89th minute of play to stun the Lions and prevent an upset. The Hokies stay on the west coast for their second game this season to take on UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 1. September through the end of the season is full of big games that could make a great case for Virginia Tech to slide into the top 10 if wins are secured.